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- Currently speaking in public,
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- Afraid to speak in public,
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You need to write a speech for an important occasion. Whether it's a presentation for your company, the toast at a wedding, a send-off to a colleague who's retiring, or a memorial speech for someone you loved, you want to get it right. But at the moment you sit down to write the speech, you stare at the white page while a bunch of jumbled thoughts tumble through your head. Or alternatively you can't think of a thing to say. You have an idea how you'd like your speech to sound, but when you try to find the words to begin, all you feel is total confusion.
You're not alone. For many people, the fear of speaking in public is not getting up and talking. It's not knowing if they're going to say it "right".
In our technological world where texting, emailing and keeping up with social media seem to be the communication methods of choice for practically all of us, with so many electronic means at our disposal you'd think the need to contact each other the old fashioned way, face-to-face, would be rapidly becoming obsolete. What a surprise to find that when sharing information, people still want to look each other in the eye and hear a real human voice, which explains why many people are discovering that they really need to know the art of public speaking.
Where does the truism come from that some people would rather die than give a speech? Interestingly enough, it's not the actual fear of speaking. It's rather who is listening. Or more specifically, what does the audience expect while they're listening? And can the speaker live up to those expectations?
When asked what their number one fear is, most people say, "Being judged."
Have you ever been forced to listen to a speaker who made you work to stay awake? Some speakers hold your attention by making you feel like the most important person in the audience. Others look like they couldn't care less whether you were there or not and made you feel they wished they were anyplace else but here.
Many people feel that speaking in public is like walking barefoot on hot coals. You can see their discomfort. They can't stand still. They constantly shift their balance from one foot to the other, like marching in place.
When you're preparing a speech, what should you say first? What should your opening sentences be?
It all depends on a number of important variables, some of them obvious, none of them difficult to deal with.
First of all, who is in the audience and how many people are you speaking to? This is a key question to ask when you're creating your speech. What kind of a group is it? A fundraising event, or the monthly meeting of the local Chamber of Commerce? A company conference or a roast, toast or retirement farewell party? A wedding, sales meeting or something else? Knowing who and how many you're speaking to is the first clue to what to say first.
Here we are at the end of the first month of 2018 already. Doesn't time fly when we aren't looking? Whether your New Year's Resolutions were a formal list of goals or just a couple of wishes tossed out over a convivial cocktail with friends, at the moment we made them, were sure we'd keep them. And some of them we actually do. But most of them, truth to tell, are probably left by the wayside or forgotten by the time February rolls around.
Many folks came up to me last year who said they'd like to improve their speaking abilities, get over their fear, look for more opportunities to speak to groups, but... There's always a 'but'. What does that 'but' really mean?